Pavel Dreveny

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Pavel Dřevěný

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* 8 February 1916

† 13 July 1944

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Pavel Dřevěný was born on 8 February 1916 in the village of Dolní Bojanovice, about 8 miles West of Hodonín in Moravia. At the time of his birth this was part of the Austro Hungarian Empire, but after the end of World War 1 it was now in the newly formed country of Czechoslovakia.

By the time he was 11, the worldwide depression of 1926 was having a serious economical effect on his village. His family, along with other families from the village decided that they would emigrate to Canada.

The Dřevěný family travelled to Margo, a small settlement in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan where there was an existing Czech community. The family wanted to farm there but conditions there were very difficult and much hard work was required to cut down and clear trees to before they could build a dwelling and farm the land. The weather was harsh and the long winters meant it was only possible to sow corn in mid May which had to be harvested before the snow came during September. The harsh conditions initially took its toll on the new Czech farmers but those who managed to hold out were able to improve their farms and gradually prosper. These conditions formulated Pavel to become a industrious and hard working young man.

After leaving school he went to work as a mechanic at ‘Pacific Ocean’, a nearby wood working factory. Shortly after WW2 broke out, Pavel went to work at an armament factory in Toronto.

Although many of the Czechoslovaks in Canada were now Canadian citizens they still had strong ties with their homeland now under Nazi occupation. Some of the Czech émigrés started fund raising to help raise finance to support the Czechoslovak military who were fighting in England and Russia. On 26 June 1942 the Czechoslovak émigré community in Margo had a meeting which was attended by Čeněk Hutník, the Commander of the Czechoslovak Military Mission in Montreal. were he gave a presentation about the lack of men in the Czechoslovak military forces in England. Pavel Dřevěný and his friend Josef Kubát were the first to volunteer.

Czechoslovak recruits from the emigre community in Canada.

Czechoslovak recruits from the emigre community in Canada.

In December 1942 Pavel left home to join the military. He took his front door key with him as a ‘good luck’ token. On 1 January 1943 Pavel was in Montreal and with his friend Josef Kubát, they enlisted into the Air Force. They were first sent to England for basic training. On completion of this they were then sent to 111 OTU, based in the Bahamas for air-crew training. They were based at ‘Windsor Field’ airfield where they commenced training as air gunners on four engined Liberator aircraft. During the training period, 111 OTU was on parade and inspected by the Duke of Windsor who was the Governor of the Bahamas.

111 OTU being inspected by the Duke of Windsor, 24/02/44.

Pavel completed his training, and with the rank of Sergeant, returned to England and was posted to 311 Sqn., based at Predannack. The role of 311 Sqn was to protect the Western end of the English Channel from enemy shipping and also anti-submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay.

On 13 July 1944, shortly after Pavel arrived at Predannack, 3 Liberators, BZ717, BZ732 and FL966 took-off for a anti submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay. Liberator, BZ717 ‘L’, was crewed by W/O Ludvík Košek, pilot, F/O Karel Novotný, co-pilot, Sgt. Jan Hornung, navigator, W/O Václav Tarantík, WO/AG, F/Sgt Rudolf Němeček, WO/AG, Sgt Václav Čapek, WO/AG, Sgt Ján Filip, WO/AG, Sgt Pavel Dřevěný, AG, Sgt Miloslav Maňašek, Flt/Eng.

Due to bad weather the patrol had to be aborted and the aircraft re-called. As Predannack was fog-bound the aircraft had to be diverted to RAF Exeter. Two of the Liberators, flown by W/O Karel Pospichal and F/O Leo Linhart landed there safely. However Liberator BZ717 was not so fortunate. For some reason W/O Ludvík Košek decided to instead of flying to Exeter at a safe height through the clouds with the assistance of radar and navigational aides, he tried to descend below the clouds to identify his position where he encountered fog. He was flying at a height of approximately 80 metres in a hilly area. At 13:15 the aircraft hit a hill, near the village of Marlborough, crashed and caught fire. There were no survivors from the crash.

The crew, with the exception of Sgt Miloslav Maňašek, were buried at Weston Hill cemetery, Plymouth.

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This entry was posted in 311 Sqd, Biography. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Pavel Dreveny

  1. Corrinne Murray King says:

    Hi There, I am pretty sure this is my great uncle. My grandfather was Joseph Dreveny and grandmother Francis Zimak. My Mother is Denise Murray (nee Dreveny) born Idenka Eva Dreveny. My Mom and I are going to Prague in a couple of months and I would love to know id there is any extended family I could track down.

  2. Scott Dreveny says:

    This is an excellent article who wrote this

  3. Susan Cornish (nee Dreveny) says:

    Thank you for this. Paul was my father’s brother…..my uncle, whom I never met.

    • scott dreveny says:

      hi susan who was your father paul was my great uncle his brother vladomir was my grandfather we are cousins

      • Susan Cornish (nee Dreveny) says:

        Hello Scott 🙂
        My father was Frank…..(Frantisek). Uncle Ladja (Vladimir) was my Dad’s brother. My mother is Lorna, and my sisters are: Syliva, Joanne and Chris. I am the youngest.
        I met you at Joe Zbitnew’s service a few springs ago here in Kelowna. Josie is my cousin and she and Joe used to visit my parents and us, when we lived in Nanoose on Vancouver Island. This is where my father passed away.
        So, yes, we are cousins!
        Susan Cornish (Dreveny)

    • scott dreveny says:

      Hi susan would you know who has uncle pauls uniform and any military photos of him and or any medals

  4. joe kubat says:

    This was the first time I have seen this site. My Uncle was Pavel’s friend, Josef Kubat. He too was killed while serving with 311 Squadron on 29.6.1944. What brave men these two were. Thank you for not forgetting their sacrifice.

  5. scott dreveny says:

    exelent information paul was my uncle

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